The Complexities of Living Beyond a Prognosis
When someone lives far beyond the prognosis that has been given, for reasons often unknown to healthcare professionals, it would seem that they would only be feeling happy with the unexpected bonus time.
But, it’s more complicated than that. For patients that have come to an acceptance it can feel unsettling that things aren’t happening as expected.
They may second guess the information provided from health care professionals and start to wonder how they should proceed.
They may start to feel like an imposter, that people are going to stop believing that they have a terminal diagnosis.
They may just be so tired of dealing with illness that they would prefer to have died within the expected time frame.
For families, they may be doing a lot of emotional work to prepare themselves for this decline and more immediate death.
They may feel like they should only be ecstatic that they have more time with the person they love.
But, emotionally, it’s actually often more complex than that.
There may be plans in place based on the previously discussed time frame.
They may have been experiencing anticipatory grief for quite some time and have done work to prepare for the loss, anticipating it soon.
There may be financial considerations for how to provide care for a much extended period.
They may be exhausted and overwhelmed from the physical and emotional demands of caregiving.
And, it may feel really hard to admit these realities.
As end of life professionals, we can create safe spaces for all parties to acknowledge the wide range of feelings and the complex reality of living past prognosis.